Miller, Joyce Ann and Tania Bogatova. (2018). Arts in Education: The Impact of the Arts Integration Program and Lessons Learned. Journal for Learning through the Arts, 14 (1).
This research evaluated an arts-integration project funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant program. The four-year project was implemented in three rural, low-income school districts and integrated dance, music, visual arts and drama into the existing curriculum. It provided professional development for classroom teachers and teaching artists. The purpose of the project was to improve lesson planning, quality of teaching, student engagement in the learning process, and student achievement in math and reading.
The research documented a number of positive outcomes for students, as well as participating teachers and teaching artists, related to quality of teaching, student engagement and learning habits. The outcomes in student achievement in math and reading could not be definitively determined due to the time-limited implementation of the program and level of exposure of students to the arts-integrated curriculum.
Significance of the Findings:
The research provided a number of recommendations that could enhance the design and implementation of similar arts-integration programs, as well as lessons learned with respect to this evaluation.
The evaluation used a mixed-method approach, gathering both quantitative and qualitative data, and data analytic techniques. The data included measures of outcomes related to quality of teaching, as well as the impact of instruction on student achievement, engagement and learning habits associated with the arts. In addition, participating teachers and artists were asked to reflect on the residency experience and provide input regarding ways to improve the program.
Limitations of the Research:
The inability to have a true control group with random assignment to either treatment/non-treatment limited the extent to which any of the outcomes could be attributed to the arts-integration experience. As the scope of the project was time-limited and the level of exposure of the participating students was minimal, the project did not provide comprehensive evidence on the exact impact on student achievement.
Questions to Guide New Research:
The project implementation needed greater clarity for the roles and responsibilities of the teachers and teaching artists, which compromised the accuracy of program implementation and was not accounted for in the research. Future research could incorporate an evaluation design that provides more comprehensive evidence about the outcomes of the program, as well as the assessment of program implementation.